|The agony of Gout||Jan. 10, 2006|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DR. GIFFORD JONES -- Toronto Sun|
|Avoid too much seafood but pass the skim milk|
Why not prescribe natural remedies rather than man-made pills to prevent disease? The longer I practice medicine, the more I'm convinced this has some wisdom. Now, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that an ancient anti-gout diet does work. And that mother was often right.
Thomas Sydenham, often referred to as the English Hippocrates, was also skeptical of pills. He remarked that, "The arrival of a good clown exercises a more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than 20 asses laden with drugs." Sydenham died in 1689 of gout and no one has ever improved on his description of the pain.
For years, researchers studied patients suffering this torture. They looked at their blood and discovered it contained high amounts of uric acid. They looked at foods containing purine that produced large amounts of uric acid. Then they discovered that patients often consumed large amounts of these foods. They concluded that too much uric acid caused gout. After all, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's usually a duck. But they were not absolutely sure of this fact.
Dr. Hyon K.Choi, rheumatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, claims there's now direct evidence that this age-old suspicion is valid.
Dr. Choi, along with Harvard's Public Health Department, studied 47,150 men for 12 years who had no history of gout.
They found that men consuming the most seafood were 51% more likely to develop gout. The group with the highest intake of beef, lamb and pork were 41% more prone to this disease. In contrast, men who drank two or more glasses of skim milk daily were half as likely to develop gout.
Gout has often been referred to as the "blue-blooded disease." It's easy to see why when it attacked the likes of King Henry VIII, Leonardo De Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Alexander the Great and Benjamin Franklin.
Now, gout has become a much more democratic disease affecting those in all walks of life. Today, over five million North Americans suffer from this disease.
Gout has always been a sexist disease, but why it has such a predilection for males is not known. Ninety-five percent of the time gout affects males, usually between 40 to 50 years of age. Women who suffer their first attack are usually in the '60s and '70s.
But why have so many North Americans developed gout? Human gluttony is a prime reason. Years ago, few people could afford the gluttonous lifestyle of King Henry VIII. Today this lifestyle is as close as the supermarket.
For many like me who love purine-rich seafoods such as shrimp, scallops and lobster, Dr. Choi's research wasn't good news. Red meat, poultry, liver, kidneys, tongue, mushrooms are also rich in purine. King Henry VIII also didn't do himself any good by imbibing in too much wine and beer, also high in purine.
I'm going to continue eating seafood which is heart- protective. I'll also occasionally eat red meat. And I'll be crawling on my hands and knees before I refuse a cocktail before meals or a relaxing glass of wine with dinner. After all, haven't I told you for years that alcohol, in moderation, is good for the heart?
Mother always told me that milk was a part of sound nutrition and once again she's been proven right. So it's the same old message; drink milk, eat purine-rich foods in moderation and keep thin to avoid that torture at 2 a.m.
|MORE COLUMNS BY DR. GIFFORD JONES -- TORONTO SUN|